Two Nanaimo hotels have been scammed out of nearly $1,700 after employees thought they were responding to legitimate requests from their regional offices.
Both incidents took place in early June, according to a Nanaimo RCMP press release.
The first incident involved a hotel employee who took a call from a person who said he was calling from the hotel’s head office and that he was having trouble getting a package delivered to the hotel. The caller said the package contained the hotel’s business licence and items for a pending health inspection.
The employee was told money to cover the shipping costs had to be sent to Federal Express immediately so the parcel could be delivered. The employee, the release said, assumed he’d be reimbursed by the hotel and used nearly $1,000 of his own money and a smaller amount of company money and deposited the money in an ATM that deals only in bitcoin.
“After the money was deposited, the employee spoke with their real head office and confirmed it was a scam,” noted the police press release.
The second incident closely resembled the first and involved an employee with another hotel chain who answered a phone call from someone claiming to be with that company’s head office. That employee lost $500, which was also deposited in an ATM that deals in bitcoin.
“It’s not hard to see why people fall for these types of scams,” said Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman, in the release. “There is an urgency to it and it seems legitimate. Employees, however, must always ensure they know who they are dealing with when it comes to financial transactions and confirm by various means that the request is authentic.”
Police suggest businesses limit the amount of money employees can spend without authorization, and say employees should familiarize themselves with who in their company conducts financial transactions. Police advise asking for information in writing and not accepting money requests over the phone. Requests for payment in bitcoin should be seen as a red flag.
To learn more about frauds and scams go to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website.